How can 3D printing change the way we think about education? Week 7 #uaemergtech


Prior to researching 3D printing’s impacts on education, my knowledge was pretty limited on the subject.  I was aware of small objects (gears, gismos, etc.) that were printed in liquid plastics and used for fairly mundane tasks.  I assumed I would learn about simple educational manipulatives, useful in a few specialized subject areas like robotics.   What I was not prepared for was the mind-blowing implications of 3D printing in health care, industry, and education.  Its impacts have the potential to revolutionize almost all aspects of our lives and our students need to be prepared to contribute to this industry.

My initial lack of excitement about 3D printing simply stemmed from a limited vision. “If you’re not excited by 3-D printing it’s because you’re not thinking big enough” (Federico-O’Murchu, 2014).  Forget simple plastic gears and miniature toy soldiers and start thinking about artificial human tissue and replacement organs and all of the sudden 3D printing takes on a whole new light.   A new method of 3D printing is being proposed that could help treat diseases like osteoarthritis.  Dr. Tuan, a leader in this field who is trying to help million of Americans says, “We hope that the methods we’re developing will really make a difference, both in the study of the disease and, ultimately, in treatments for people with cartilage degeneration or joint injuries” (Sher, 2014).  Not only will 3D printers improve our physical quality of life, they also have the potential to increase human life expectancy dramatically.  “Realistically, we’re going to be living to 100 …110. With bio-printed organs, living to 110 won’t be anything like living to that age today” (Federico-O’Murchu, 2014).  While we are a long way from advanced 3D printed organs, the future applications of 3D printing is thrilling.

lux-3d-printingThe graph above shows a variety of industries that are soon expected to rapidly utilize 3D printers.  But the truth is, nearly every industry will be impacted. Imagine a world where instead of running to an auto-parts store, you purchase the specific part from the Internet and print it off right at home.  This advancement would save significant money in transportation costs and potentially a reduction in pollution.  “A 3D printer such as the open-source RepRap may not only pay for itself but actually save money by making just 20 household items — such as shower-curtain rings and safety razors — per year” (Hsu, 2013).  Another major advantage of a 3D printing is that you can make modifications on projects to fit your specific needs. Imagine a world where 3D printing occurs at home or in local stores and replaces large-scale manufactured goods. “In such a world, only raw materials and digital designs would cross national borders” (Hsu, 2013).  As 3D printing develops, new industries will rush to create and sell digital designs and new laws and protections will need to be put into place.  Our government has already scrambled to protect the public from potential terrorists downloading and sharing bombs, grenades, and machine guns – all capable of being printed in 3D (Winter, 2013).  More alarming, these weapons will be printed free of any serial number or other common ways of being traced.  “Proposed legislation to ban 3D printing of weapons may deter, but cannot completely prevent their production, even if the practice is prohibited by new legislation, online distribution of these digital files will be as difficult to control as any other illegally traded music, movie or software files” (Winter, 2013).  Currently objects printed cannot compete in quality or final polish of a manufactured good, but given time there are many products that consumers will increasingly want to print for themselves.   Security, safety, copyright questions will need to be answered as this newly emerging industry sorts itself out and schools are just the place to begin discussing these issues.

All of this is relevant information as we look at 3D printers and their applications in schools today. It is obvious that students will be working with 3D printers in their professional and personal lives in increasing numbers.  In the graphic below, there is a list of educational uses for 3D printers.  3d-Printing-in classroomThis is certainly not a comprehensive list of uses.  Most of these examples enhance tactile hands-on learning.  The benefits of 3D printing easily range from K-college and in all subject areas.  “As far as how this can be used in education, it’s a matter of bringing objects out of the computer screen and into the hands of students for inspection, analysis, and other processes that can benefit from physical manipulation.  In that way, 3D printers may eventually be able to bridge the gap between the physical and the digital–use a screen to find what you need, then print it into existence” (“10 Ways 3D Printing Can Be Used In Education [Infographic]”).  There are many critical thinking opportunities 3D printing opens up to our students.  Government students will need to debate the ethics of open source vs. private property rights as it applies to 3D designs.  As well as the government’s ability/right to regulate this industry (Freedom vs. Safety).  3D printing in schools isn’t just about plugging a printer in and pushing “print”.  This emerging technology opens the door for educators to equip students with the ability to design, create, modify, and engineer new products to fit specific learning objectives.  Students will be able to collaborate and share design ideas and improve upon those ideas and apply them to a variety of different situations.  These critical thinking and problem solving abilities are enhanced through 3D printing and will be in high demand in the future.

3D printing has amazing ramifications in medicine, industry, and education. The more I learn about what they can do, the more my mind starts to spin with the possibilities.  The video below addresses how 3D printers have changed education in one school.  As this technology advances and becomes more affordable, I expect 3D printers to find a regular place in the classroom as well as our homes and offices.


Works Cited

Federico-O’Murchu, L. (2014, May 11). How 3-D printing will radically change the world. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from

Hsu, J. (2013, August 12). How 3D Printing Will Save You Money. Retrieved June 29, 2015, from,news-17332.html

On a mission to help schools uncover the benefits of 3D printing for teaching. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2015, from

Sher, D. (2014, April 29). New 3D Bioprinting Method Using Visible Light – 3D Printing Industry. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from

Winter, J. (2013, May 23). Homeland Security bulletin warns 3D-printed guns may be ‘impossible’ to stop. Retrieved June 29, 2015, from

3-D Printer Powers High School Projects. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2015, from

10 Ways 3D Printing Can Be Used In Education [Infographic]. (2013, February 19). Retrieved June 30, 2015, from



Week 6 Reflection

I had a fairly nice time this week trying to be a bit contrary and take on the predictable perspective that Coding should be taught in schools.  I had a few enjoyable exchanges with students in the class on our differing viewpoints.  Even a computer programmer who was invited to comment on our blogs offered some great perspectives from someone in the industry.  Of course, I do think we should offer coding in schools and I DO see the value of coding.  However, the more we discussed the issue the less convinced I am that coding will find a regular home in our schools.

First of all, to offer coding in schools means that you need people qualified to teach coding.  I don’t see our schools being able to provide this at any advanced level considering the industry-wide shortage of coders.  Second, schools are so hampered by standardized tests that administrators are under considerable pressure to perform.  While the benefits to coding are apparent to me, and many other researchers (Pea, “On The Cognitive Effects Of Learning Computer Programming”), it will take a bold gamble that time spent coding and not working on other subject areas will improve test scores.  If you liberate schools from high-stakes tests and the pressure that ensues, I think you would find a huge improvement by using coding, maker spaces, etc. Finally, I think the time spent coding is valuable but I feel it is too specific of a skill to focus on.  I’m more interested in broad technology-based integrations that focus on creativity, critical thinking skills and collaboration.  This last point was debated thoroughly by my peers.  I’m not sure I convinced anybody to my point of view.  I understand coding is at the foundation of technology and that creativity and critical thinking skills are utilized through coding.  I just think that every public school student doesn’t need to learn to code.

I would be excited to see coding offered in every high school as an elective. I would be excited about funding after-school coding clubs in elementary schools as well.   I definitely agree that coding should be a part of any school’s computer science program.  I was excited about the discussion involving universities substituting coding for foreign language credit. This allows schools to provide a very necessary skill for students who are driven to learn in.  In the end, this was a very good week of learning for me.  I have learned about the educational applications of coding and am excited to see more coding emerge in schools throughout the United States.

Pea, R., & Kurland, D. (1984). ON THE COGNITIVE EFFECTS OF LEARNING COMPUTER PROGRAMMING. Retrieved June 27, 2015, from

Week 6: What are the compelling arguments both for and against computer coding in schools? #uaemergtech


Reading, writing, arithmetic, and coding?  While the educational world has been slow to implement some of the emerging technologies, there is no doubt that a push for higher student performance will initiate future measures.  Traditional methods of education have been scrutinized as technology allows us to enrich student learning in ways previously thought impossible.  Educators are excited by the freedom and creativity technology provides and there is great carryover benefits to many subject areas.  In keeping with our drive to help students create and integrate technology, offering computer coding to students may be a natural fit.  The implementation of coding in our schools presents both positive and negative aspects.

President Obama has issued the charge for U.S. schools to attack our nation’s failings in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subject areas.  One way for us to equip our students for the increasing technology demands of our world is to widely implement coding into our curriculum.  “Apps now manage nearly every aspect of our lives, personally and professionally. We have dozens of apps on our smartphones and tablets for our finances, fitness and everything in between; and we rely on nearly as many to do our jobs” (Scratch, nd).  Nearly all businesses are being transformed by the App, and coding is at the heart of App creation.  It is easy to connect the dots and try to prepare our students for a successful transition into the world of work by equipping them with the skills to code.

By the year 2020, it is estimated that we will see a 22% increase in computer related jobs.  This industry is growing faster than most other jobs (Zamora, 2014).  As if this isn’t exciting enough, there is also strong evidence to show coding develops motor neuron pathways and opens the gates to new learning (Zamora, 2014).  Coding allows for students to become more creative and to solve complex problems.  For these reason alone it certainly seems worth it for schools to turn a focus on to coding and there is a strong push to require Computer Science as a core subject area.  Some districts, like Chicago Public Schools, are moving forward with making Computer Science a core subject “In order to prepare our children for careers in the 21st century, we’ve increased access to high-quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs throughout the district,” said district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett (Zumbach, “CPS to make computer science a core subject”).

There are many compelling arguments for offering coding in schools.  I would not, however, like to see it be a requirement at any high levels.  First of all, not every student needs to code to be successful in this world.  Schools are already taxed to provide the basic educational coverage to their students as it it.  As Schwartze says in her argument against coding in schools, “achieving universities’ top-down demands to deliver students with writing, comprehension, and communication and mathematics skills is already a tall order.  Throwing yet another demand into the mix would be unrealistic for many schools, and for the students” (2014).  If we are going to require coding why should we stop there?  Why not require plumbing, carpentry, or accounting courses?  These courses would all be valuable for students to know as well, but it is simply not practical to offer everything.  If we are going to require coding in schools it will mean two things.  First, students will need to forgo time spent learning (presumably) other core subjects.  Second, schools will need to hire professionals who are equipped to teach coding.  (Luring teachers from more lucrative fields may be problematic.)  Finally, teaching a coding language in use today may not necessarily be widely useful next year.  “In order to empower everyone to build apps, we need to focus on bringing greater abstraction and automation to the app development process. We need to remove code — and all its complexity — from the equation” (Scratch, nd).  Coding as we know it today may not exist, or be necessary for future App creation and development.  Teaching students to think critically and creatively and to have confidence exploring the world of technology may be a better focus for our schools than a specific coding skill.

There are many benefits to offering computer coding in schools.  It is clearly has value that will foster creativity, problem solving, and potentially develop a skill to fast track a career.  I would not like to see coding required at advanced levels for all students, however.  I do not feel that the benefits outweigh the problems for widespread coding requirements.   I think it would be very forward thinking of schools and universities to accept coding as a foreign language substitute and I would like to see it available at all schools.  Coding is a very important skill and should be widely offered at our schools.  Yet I am far more concerned with developing critical thinking students with a desire to be life-long learners than I am students with an advanced narrow and specific skill set.


Works Cited:

Baron, S. (n.d.). 20 Resources for Teaching Kids How to Program & Code. Retrieved June 23, 2015, from

Drum, K. (2014, April 23). Not everyone needs to learn programming, but every school should offer it. Retrieved June 23, 2015, from

Schwartze, B. (2014, November 14). Should we teach computer science in elementary school? Retrieved June 23, 2015, from

Scratch, G. (n.d.). Should We Really Try to Teach Everyone to Code? Retrieved June 23, 2015, from
Zamora, W. (2014, April 1). Why Coding Should Be Taught in Elementary School. Retrieved June 23, 2015, from
Zumbach, L. (2013, December 10). CPS to make computer science a core subject. Retrieved June 23, 2015, from

Week 5 Reflection

Without a doubt this week’s prompt was the toughest one we have had so far.  The other questions required me to research and explore a topic I have (often) not heard of before.  Not only have I never heard of the Internet of Things before, this week I was asked to design an IoT object to benefit my classroom.   As it turns out I use objects that are a part of the Internet of Things all the time.  Realizing that the key component to the IoT is data collection and data utilization, I began to see some immediate applications to my classroom.  I put considerable time into working through different devices that would help me collect useable data, and I feel fairly sure I have found it in the iStudent Smart Watch.

I’m not going to come right out and say that I am brilliant.  I did go through at least three “sure big hits” like the Smart Desk before realizing that it had already been invented.  But with my iStudent Smart Watch I feel that I am on the cusp of riches.  If I suddenly stop blogging next week, it is likely that I am touring the country in my personal jet.  I’ve read most of the other student’s blogs this week and there are some nice ideas… but none with the game changing capabilities of my invention. 🙂  I have to admit; I was a little disappointed that my blog was not retweeted across the World this week.  Obviously it has not been immediately recognized as a tool all teachers need.  Last weeks blog actually was shared and passed along by several educational organizations and retweeted more than anything I have ever posted.  This one… crickets so far… Even my classmates haven’t had much to say about it.

I did get some good feedback about invasion of privacy issues that my watch would pose.  Especially when it comes to the biofeedback information I desired to collect.  Although I usually can recognize the comatose looks on my student’s faces without a “pulse rate” it might be useful data.  The discussion on the invasion of privacy issues did cause me to question if this feature had crossed the line… I thought that was a valid point.  How much of a student’s personal information should be allowed to be shared with teachers (pulse, etc.).  There was a consensus that having student’s presence logged into a computer by walking through the door would be a really handy invention (and useful for us secondary teachers). I also think that as technology grows more sophisticated students will all be on IEP’s at a workstation (SmartDesk, Tablet…).   The value of that individualized instruction will be great as long as they can still get individual assistance and incorporate group activities with their peers.

I enjoyed reading about Scott’s various inventions and thought his Smart Desk was a good idea… although I think already well under development. Jane’s holographic device also seemed like a very useful tool. It reminded me somewhat of MineCraft and we talked about how some schools were using MineCraft today. John’s card that recorded student progress on every digital device used, also seemed like it has great possibilities. Overall I felt mentally stretched by this week’s topic and am impressed by the creativity of the class.

Week 5 Essential Question: Design an object that could be classified as belonging to “The Internet of Things” and describe how it could contribute to your classroom. #UAEmergTech


The Internet of Things or IoT is an exciting topic, although it has been around for many years now.  We have developed smart toasters, smart TV’s, smart fridges and even smart homes.  What makes these items “smart” is their ability to collect data and interact wirelessly with the Internet.  The volume of data collection now available to each one of us has a plethora of uses at our homes, business, and even at school (Meyers, 2014).

I was at my friend’s dairy farm last summer in Minnesota and I was blown away by the use of technology there.  Cows each carry an electronic chip/tag pierced through an ear.  When it comes time for milking, the cows pass by a sensor that identifies who that cow is and their entire milking history.  While colleting milk from the cow, that chip is being updated in real time and a complete history of their output is recorded.  That data can help the farmer formulate adjustments in the cow’s diet, climate (air temperature) and a variety of other factors to maintain a high level of milk output (Parker, 2015).

While I do not consider my students to be livestock, I do certainly see some parallels in the IoT as related to education.  Every student is unique and has certain capabilities.  Even if the diet and climate is the same for each student in the classroom, we certainly see a difference in output for each student based on a variety of individualized factors.  Since each student is an individual, we could certainly benefit from an individualized educational prescription for each student.   To achieve this, each student will wear an iStudent Smart watch.

SW05 (10)-750x750

As students walk in to class, their iStudent Smart Watch automatically register’s their time of arrival on the teacher’s attendance registry.  Also recorded is their time out of the classroom for bathroom breaks, tardies, etc.  An iStudent Smart Watch will interact with each student’s Smart Desk or personal Tablet.  A portion of each day’s class will be dedicated to the student’s individualized learning plan.  As students master standards in each individual subject, that information will be instantly updated on the teacher’s computer.  Teachers will be able to monitor the student’s progress and assist in specific areas that the student is struggling in during that time.  This flexible and individualized learning plan will allow the advanced students to achieve far beyond what might otherwise be allowed and the lower achieving students to get the assistance needed.  Whole group learning activities, lectures, discussions, and activities can all still take place in this classroom, providing students with the opportunity to interact and enrich each other’s learning.

The iStudent Smart Watch will also record data in real time providing biofeedback on student’s pulse rate and activity levels.  This will allow teachers immediate knowledge about when it might be a good time to change up activities to keep student’s alertness high.  Teachers will also be able to instantly send private feedback to students via their iStudent Smart Watch (encouragements and reminders to stay on task).  This data will be available for parents to review along with all other progress.  Parents can see a dashboard view of the student’s achievement on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.  Aside from completion of subject-based standards, parents and students will also have real time access to course assignments, grades and activities.

There are of course some concerns with this technology.  First of all, that is a lot of student’s personal data being collected in real time.  That information will need to be secured and protected.  Second, students may run the risk of being “tracked”.  Over time, as we have a significant body of data, we risk “losing” our students as a number and teachers, parents, and students may limit expectations.  Also, with so much information instantly available, it may encourage parents to smother their children and not give students some freedom, flexibility and ownership in their own education.  Finally, I worry that the iStudent Smart Watch may discourage creativity in the classroom if not monitored carefully.  Collaborative and team activities will need to be a component of any classroom using this device.

The IoT is quickly changing the way we interact with the world around us.  We are able to collect data from almost any electronic device and use that information to our advantage.  It seems only natural that we will carry this technology over into education in growing proportions.  The iStudent Smart Watch provides an intriguing way for this to happen.  Recording individual student achievement in the classroom with biofeedback data creates a powerful tool for educators.  It also can help students and parents plot out a course for success in the classroom.


Works Cited

Hagemann, R. (2015, April 1). ‘Internet of Things’ in education, health care dependent on regulatory framework – Retrieved June 12, 2015, from

Kobie, N. (2015, May 6). What is the Internet of Things? Retrieved June 12, 2015, from

Lagorio-Chafkin, C. (2015, March 12). The Internet of Things is Coming for Your Baby. Retrieved June 12, 2015, from

Meyers, M. (2014, December 3). Can the Internet of Things make education more student-focused? – Government 2020. Retrieved June 12, 2015, from

Parker, M. (2015, March 21). Digital Dairy: Farm goes high tech admidst dwindling numbers in state. Retrieved June 12, 2015, from






Week 4: Maker Space Reflection

It has been quite an interesting week for me conducting research and reading through the blogs of my peers on Maker Spaces. I honestly have never heard of maker spaces before.  Once researched, I have recognized this concept being employed in our computer lab over the last couple of years.  Students in a select technology class have the freedom to take on various technology-based projects, and collaborate to get work done.  They are called “Tech-lings” under the guidance of our technology guru and what they get accomplished is quite impressive.  It is also evident that they enjoy the collaborative nature of the working environment.  Some students flourish in this type of open learning system and I have knowledge that some students appear to abuse this freedom and struggle staying on task.

To me the various benefits of maker spaces are clear.  Students work best when teaching (showing) other students and the learning pyramid I posted in my blog is worth re posting here.  We should try to spend significant time engaging our students in activities that will allow them to show others, practice, and discuss with others, the material we are covering.  Many traditional education models neglect these methods.   I have no doubt creating creative students with the ability to collaborate and problem solve will directly assist them in a successful transition to the world of work.


The questions I posed to my peers this week were more focused on the application of this pedagogy specifically.  Last week we dove into the world of flipped classrooms.  I am much more comfortable with the idea of implementing a flipped classroom than I am with utilizing maker spaces in my classroom.   The questions I posted on peer blogs have been discussed but I am not satisfied.  First, how do you deal with a classroom of students who are using maker spaces?  25-35 students working in one space seems like a management nightmare.  How can I keep them all on task and make sure students are engaged?  How do you grade creativity in a traditional grading scale?  Where I have witnessed this method implemented, class sizes were significantly smaller.  Second, what does this look like in classrooms outside of a STEM subject? I have no doubt that some of my projects and open discovery activities are similar in concept to a maker space, but those were short units and after completing we returned to a more traditional learning environment.  To redesign my whole course in the maker space model for a full year is a terrifying thought to somebody like me who prizes a certain element of control in my classroom.

I have no doubt that this model is successful and that there are certain schools and teachers who are accomplishing tremendous results with maker spaces. I also agree with this strategy in theory and will look to implement maker space concept units in my classroom.  However, I do have reservations about keeping students on task and the parental fall-out that will likely result for those students who struggle to stay on task… and ultimately struggle to earn a desired grade.  As “Burns12” commented below what many of us are struggling with is “how to connect a maker space to curriculum and/or standards without compromising the fundamental aspects that make a maker space”.

Week 4 Essential question: What is the pedagogy behind a Maker Space? What are the benefits of this pedagogy to students? #UAEmergTech

Blake's Maker Space

With a Maker Space, you leave behind the theoretical or strictly digital and delve into a tactile hands-on project based learning environment. A physical learning environment is constructed to provide an array of project based learning activities that often require collaboration, critical thinking, and real world problem solving. We are starting to see maker spaces being implemented in science, technology, engineering, and math classes (STEM), but they are often interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts.  As an emerging technology they are exciting because their implementation is still in its infancy stages and the results are positive as students enjoy the freedom and collaboration this style of learning offers.  Also it is catching on because we are equipping students with skills and experiences that will translate into their future careers.

Maker spaces have evolved from a concept called hacker spaces and this pedagogy relies on the simple concept of creating creative people. One of the premises of maker spaces is the idea that you have a group of people in a single space working on projects. Maker spaces function as a mecca of peer learning and knowledge sharing. Although formal and scheduled presentations on particular topics can occur, much of the learning is spontaneous and student driven. Many of these maker spaces are being constructed in computer labs and even libraries. “The maker movement in libraries is about teaching our patrons to think for themselves, to think creatively, and to look for do-it-yourself solutions before running off to the store. In short, a makerspace is a place where people come together to create with technology” (Bagley, 2012).


Schools who have embraced the maker space concepts are finding tremendous success, especially for those who don’t thrive under traditional classroom learning. As educators we often spend much of our time lecturing, reading, and on occasion discussing information with our students. The theory behind maker spaces flips that education model on its head. Maker spaces are zones of self-directed learning. “Their hands-on character, coupled with the tools and raw materials that support invention, provide the ultimate workshop for the tinkerer and the perfect educational space for individuals who learn best by doing” (“7 Things You Should Know About Makerspaces”). Students learn best by creating, demonstrating, practicing and ultimately teaching others. No wonder when we ask students to sit in a lecture all day, they struggle paying attention (Martin, 2010).

Students will benefit from this pedagogy because this type of collaborative learning focuses on them contributing to the learning of others. Having students teach others and discuss concepts with others will allow them to retain much more information. “Makerspaces allow students to take control of their own learning as they take ownership of projects they have not just designed but defined. At the same time, students often appreciate the hands-on use of emerging technologies and a comfortable acquaintance with the kind of experimentation that leads to a completed project” (“7 Things You Should Know About Makerspaces”). In 2010, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology reported to the President the need to create a strong foundation in our schools in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Maker spaces are a natural fit in bringing about improvements in these fields as students grow together through discovery.

Humans have a strong drive to create. If you really want to inspire students to learn you will provide them the freedom to create, collaborate, and problem solve. Aristotle said whatever we learn to do, we learn by actually doing it; men come to be builders, for instance by building, and harp players by playing the harp”. Aristotle knew thousands of years ago what we are just rediscovering in our education practices today. By providing our students with real-life experiences in school today, we are equipping them to be successful for the rest of their lives.

@Jason Boerger

Works Cited:

Bagley, C. (2012, December 20). What is a Makerspace? Creativity in the Library. Retrieved June 8, 2015, from

Cooper, J. (2013, September 13). Designing a School Makerspace. Retrieved June 8, 2015, from

Martin, Jonathan. (2010, September 1). In Schools of the Future, Students Learn Best by Doing, Vigorously and Digitally. Retrieved June 8, 2015, from

7 Things You Should Know About Makerspaces. (2013, April 1). Retrieved June 8, 2015, from